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Digvijay Singh asked: What is the strategic significance and implications of Indian prime minister’s recent visit to Japan?

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  • Shamshad Ahmad Khan replies: As part of annual summit level talks with Japan, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh visited Tokyo (May 27-30, 2013) and held talks with his Japanese counterpart, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. As a result of this visit, both the countries agreed to further strengthen their naval cooperation to safeguard the sea lanes of communication, the lifeline of their economies. Both sides agreed that they would hold an annual Maritime Affairs Dialogue to strengthen their maritime cooperation. Japan has also offered to sell the domestically manufactured US-2 amphibian aircraft to India. If the deal materialises, the Indian Navy can use it for both rescue and reconnaissance purposes. There has been some headway on Japan-India nuclear cooperation front as well. Both the prime ministers agreed that they would expedite the process of finalising an agreement in this regard.

    At the economic cooperation front – an integral aspect of the India-Japan strategic partnership - Japan has agreed to further invest in the infrastructure development projects in India. It was agreed during the summit level talks that the Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC) will get 26 per cent equity in Delhi Mumbai Industrial Corridor Development Corporation (DMICDC). The cost of the DMIC project has been estimated up to US $90 billion, quarter of the cost would be funded by Japan. Similarly, Japan has agreed to provide loan worth 71 billion yen for Mumbai Metro Line III project and 17.7 billion yen for campus development project of IIT Hyderabad. Japan has also shown interest in developing the Chennai-Bengaluru Industrial Corridor (CBIC).

    India needs about $1 trillion for infrastructure development which would require larger public investment and public-private partnerships (PPP) during the 12th Five Year Plan (2012-17). Japan is likely to be one of the major contributors.

    It was also announced that the Japanese Emperor and Empress would be making their first-ever visit to India end of this year.